After last month’s work-focused ‘Diagnosed at a young age’ piece with Ginajsy, this week sees Gbear opens up to the Community - sharing with us the impact her diagnosis had on both her family and social life, as well as its emotional impact.

Being diagnosed at a young age affected me more than I ever imagined...

This was me, pretty much a carefree scuba diver. I used to work retail which paid for my holidays to Egypt where I did most of my diving, aged 37.

All this changed when I realised that something was very wrong and went to see my GP, who was great very understanding and got me sent off to the hospital to get scans done. I found that I was bleeding in-between periods at first just spotting but I kept feeling sharp pain that wasn’t normal. This was July 2016, I had been told that it was just a couple of small fibroids and nothing at all sinister to worry about and the pill should help, I even went telling all my friends at work. A good friend spoke of her relief that it wasn’t cancer as she thought it was and glad for me that it wasn’t the case. I was never convinced, you know your own body is what I always say. Months went by as I went back and too to the GP, starting to feel I was wasting her time. I picked up an UTi (March 2017) infection which floored me, and I end up in hospital, again scans done only see two small fibroids. By this time, I was thinking ‘wow’, if I feel this bad how others who have had melon size fibroids must feel.

Eventually May 2017 I had a biopsy done. At the same time our little boy, our horse we had for 25 years was also very poorly. We had to try and get his medication down him which wasn’t easy especially as I wasn’t strong, I knew I was weakening.

On the 5th of June 2017 our little boy collapsed in the field and the vet was called, Dad had called me and I was determined to be there to try and help if I could, sadly there wasn’t anything that could be done and the decision was made to put him down, in a way I felt the horse had given up, I think deep down he knew I was very ill, lucky he was in the field so he was comfortable, although it was pouring down so much Dad and I were soaked. To top off a really bad week on the 8th I had an appointment at the hospital with my biopsy results, its womb cancer! My 38th birthday was only the 17th so my world just seemed to cave in on top of me all the self-doubt of being told it was nothing only to find they were very wrong, my friend was so very upset and felt stupid that she had managed to get me to feel that it wasn’t anything serious. About a week after my diagnosis one of my best friends found out he was incurable with a terminal diagnosis of cancer, I believed he should have been diagnosed sooner but sadly he wasn't. He died last year, and I had lost an older brother. So, I have been bereaved too because of cancer, so I have some understanding about others in grief, personally I haven't got over his death but the years we shared he was always there to listen and did so much for others too.

Being diagnosed at young age affected more than I ever imaged. It affected me mentally due to self-doubt after constantly being fobbed off before with, “it’s just a couple of small fibroids, I am too young for cancer.” It was womb cancer, thankfully low stage, but when you know something is very wrong and your constantly fobbed off you begin to think that somehow your mind is playing tricks on you, making things up to mess with your mind, and all that. I was told originally, “don’t worry, its nothing sinister.” Of course, I believed what I was being told. for me the consequences of being diagnosed was that I needed to have a total hysterectomy with my ovaries and tubes removed, I could no longer have children, I didn’t have any children already, I felt I let my family down, no grandchildren but ultimately, I felt betrayed. A cancer diagnosis at any age is devastating but when your young somehow it feels different, not sure how but so many who don’t know any different seem to have this belief that cancer only effects older adults, but it can affect any age, even sadly children, and I would never wish it on my worst enemy. But the sad thing is as more and more are affected by cancer it’s hard to be naive about it, the important thing to know is there is help and support out there and that there are always others who have had a similar experience and can relate, never feel your alone or isolated that there are others young diagnosed with cancer out there ready to share experiences and gain support and understanding.

However, as a silver lining I have found that I have some artist talents that have long been hidden it seems and painting helps me to relax as more unknowns are being investigated. 

Since I can’t dive still at the moment, my painting helps me mentally and I have learnt so much, photography is another passion that I am drawing on at the moment. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday with friends who have been with me every step of the way, they are my rock and also who I know I can trust. When your trust is lost it’s difficult to find your way, but they have always been there to guide me, that beacon to guide my ship so that I can sail away from crashing into the rocks, a beacon of hope. Without hope we are all lost.

A massive thanks to Gbear for opening-up and sharing the above with us.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer at a young age and would like to talk to people of a similar age, go join our Diagnosed at a young age group.

If, like Gbear, you’re involved in a pastime that helps you relax or provides a much needed distraction, then why not take a look at the discussions going on in our Express yourself group.